What is the 1stGen@Iowa Implementation Team?

In May 2019, the University of Iowa was designated as a First-Gen Forward institution by the NASPA Center for First-Generation Student Success. With this honor also came the responsibility to create and implement a goal plan identifying areas for improvement, developing a measurable and accountable process, and tracking progress specific to advancing the success of first-generation students at the University of Iowa. As a result, our institutional First-Gen Forward Leadership Team has developed a goal plan that ultimately aims to make the University of Iowa the institution of choice for first-generation students in the state of Iowa.

While work on many of the strategies and associated action items is already underway, there are still several aspects of the goal plan that remain to be addressed and implemented. To aid in this work, Dr. Tanya Uden-Holman, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of the University College, and Dr. Angie Reams, Associate VP and Dean of Students have convened the 1stGen@Iowa Implementation Team, which has been charged with implementing the remaining aspects of the First-Gen Forward goal plan. It's important to note that this group is being referred to as the 1stGen@Iowa Implementation Team, as opposed to the First-Gen Forward implementation team. By utilizing an already institutionalized initiative, the group’s work will encompass a larger body of initiatives on campus and serve as an “umbrella” for the impetus behind the First-Gen Forward designation.

Starting Point: How do we define a sense of belonging?

Sense of belonging involves an individual’s connection to a group or organization. It encompasses feeling cared about, accepted, respected, and valued by others (Strayhorn, 2019). At the University of Iowa, a sense of belonging is cultivated by everyone on campus including, faculty, staff, and student peers. It manifests through the desire and willingness to connect interpersonally, while respecting differences. These connections foster a sense of security and support an inclusive environment, allowing everyone to thrive individually and collectively and to better represent their authentic selves (Bruno, 2019).

This definition will guide much of this team's work as we move forward in the First-Gen Forward Goal Plan.

UI administrative support:

  • Tanya Uden-Holman, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
  • Angie Reams, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students


  • *Angie Lamb, Assistant Director, Academic Support and Retention
  • *Cody Pritchard, Project Director, TRIO Student Support Services
  • James Ankrum, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
  • Kelsey Ryder, Interim Senior Associate Director, Financial Literacy and Counseling
  • Maria Bruno, Executive Director of Belonging and Assistant to the VP of Student Life, Student Life
  • Matt Anson, Associate Director, Institutional Research and Assessment
  • *Mirra Anson, Director, Academic Support and Retention
  • *Shaun Vecera, Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences

*First-Gen Forward Institutional Executive Leadership Team Member

For more information, contact angela-lamb@uiowa.edu